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José Manuel Lea Plaza

18.12.2012
José Manuel Lea Plaza
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José Manuel Lea Plaza

Like all my other trips, they have born around a grill in a barbecue and a good chat with some friends; this couldn´t be an exception.

In 2009 we were with a couple of friends who had gone separately to Torres del Paine National Park and now they wanted to go together.  They convinced us to go with them, but the interests and physical conditions were totally different, they wanted to do the Big Circuit and we wanted to do the “W” Circuit, they had experience and we didn´t. Even though we found are way to do it together, they would start some days before and we would meet them at Grey Refugio. Up to then, this was only good intentions, until we bought the flight tickets, and my wife and I realized that we were up to our necks; she had never slept in a tent before and I had have this year an accident doing kite surf and had my hip operated, which made me afraid of not being able to walk for some days and sleep in a tent, but we were already on it.

We start researching about trekking and realized that there was a whole world behind a walk like this (even though it is not something from another world, for two unskilled people it is a big deal), we bought the gear and practice, literally, in our backyard the assemble of our tent in record time, so we would not get to wet in case it rained, our friends lough at us and help us taking time with a chronometer, later we start going camping in different places, close to Santiago so we would become acclimatized with this issue, until the day of departure arrived.

We got to Punta Arenas and went straight to Puerto Natales, not before waiting very cold outside the terminal for our bus at 07:00 in the morning. In Puerto Natales we stayed four days visiting the surroundings and doing some touristic excursions. As well as feeling like we were in another country, I realized that in summer there are more foreigners tan Chileans. We decided to hire a porter, since my hip was not ok and I did not know if I would be able to carry that much weight every day, he would carry our backpack, pack our tent, and assemble it in the next campsite, this would made the adventure less intense and more enjoyable.

We went to Torres del Paine National Park and slept the first night at Lago Grey Hotel, so we could become “acclimatized”. We felt the gust coming from the glacier and we thought: Tomorrow we will be there, but inside a tent. At the morning we took Grey II boat to the Grey campsite and start the walk (we met our friends at Pehoe Lodge). That walk is a wonder, close to the lake full of icebergs, it is really beautiful and it makes you forget about how tire you are and how tough your new shoes are (even though we had them broken in, but they never got soft enough). We were very happy when we realized we had done the walk at a normal time, found our friends and our porter (if we didn´t had found him, it meant we were in the middle of the park without our tent and sleeping bag). Our friends were exhausted, they had had a really tough experience, with a lot of rain and snow, so they had taken the decision to take the catamaran and go to a friend’s house close to the start point of the Base of the Torres. Due to the rain a river in between the Italiano campsite and the Base of the Torres had gone out, but we decided to continue and met our friends in their friend´s house. Next day we said goodbye to are friends and went towards the Italiano campsite, the walk was also beautiful, close to unpronounceable lakes and strong gust blowing strongly and if they would found you unattended they could sent you to the floor, until we got to the Italiano campsite, which was close because the  toilets were flooded, but people from Conaf allowed us to sleep there. The porter who had arrived long time before us, had found a good spot to put our tent, protected against the rain. Next day we went up the valley, which had very nice views of the Cuernos, mountains and glaciers, also you walk in between a forest without seeing much until you get out of it and this beautiful landscapes appeared, it is really amazing. Once we got down the valley, people from Conaf told us that it was better to go back to Pehoe lodge and get to the Base of the Torres by boat and bus, after that advice, we didn´t had much choice than to go back the same way. We arrived to Pehoe Lodge completely soaked, we didn´t have anything dry and the boat was departing three hours later but to get in we had to make a long line under the rain, at that time there was snow rain, we had never been that cold in our lives (not even for Tunik). We took the boat out and it was funny to see  all of us looking like wet dogs, shivering and trying to keep warm in any way. After a couple of hours we got to those friends of our friends house and we took over their house literally, we dried everything from our underwear to our boats close to their heater. We stayed there for three days waiting for the weather to get better, so we would go up the Base of the Torres, since it didn´t get better we decided to go any way. We went the third day and obviously it was raining, we got to the Chileno Refugio very wet, so we decided to not to go any further and go back. Next day we took the bus to Puerto Natales and when we were on the bus the sky got clear and the three Torres appeared completely clear and then we heard that they stayed like that for many days, my wife and I said that it meant that we had to come back.

I always thought that the only possibility for me to do the Torres circuit was when it could be made in a motorcycle, now that I already had done it, I realize how wrong I was and that is really worth doing it even once in your life.

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